Sep 25, 2023 - News

Mass shootings in California have increased since 2020

Data: Gun Violence Archive; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Gun Violence Archive; Chart: Axios Visuals

​​Although California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, the state — like America itself — has recorded an increase in mass shootings in recent years.

Driving the news: There have now been more than 500 mass shootings in the U.S. this year — including one that left nine wounded in San Francisco in June.

By the numbers: Just five years ago, the country had never experienced 500 mass shootings in one year. The annual figure crossed 600 in 2020 and has kept climbing.

Where things stand: A shooting that wounded four people in Denver on Sept. 16 marked the country's 500th mass shooting in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

  • Hours later, that increased to 501 mass shootings after one person died and five others were wounded in El Paso, Texas.

Of note: A January shooting on the eve of Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, a largely Asian American area, has caused the most deaths so far in 2023. Eleven people were killed and nine were injured in the massacre.

Catch up quick: California enacted some of its toughest gun laws after a gunman killed eight people in a law firm at 101 California Street 30 years ago.

  • The mass shooting — San Francisco's deadliest to this day — sparked a statewide and federal push to restrict semiautomatic weapons, invest in resources for people with mental illnesses, and hold gun manufacturers accountable if appropriate.
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) later cited the shooting in her advocacy for the 1994 federal assault weapons ban, which was in effect for 10 years.

Between the lines: The FBI does not define or quantify what constitutes a mass shooting.

  • Gun Violence Archive, an independent research and data collection organization, defines a mass shooting as a shooting in which four or more people were shot or killed, not including the shooter.
  • This makes its numbers higher than some other sources with varying definitions.

The big picture: With increasing personal experiences, more Americans view gun violence as a public health concern.

What they're saying: "It doesn't matter if you're Black, white, gay, straight or what religion you are," Rudy Corpuz Jr., founder of local violence prevention and youth development organization United Playaz, said at a rally by Golden Gate Bridge in June. "When those bullets come flying, it's not going to discriminate."

What to watch: Awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom's signature are bills that would add a new tax on gun sales and ban firearms in public spaces, among others.


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